The 22 Best Toys for 18-Month-Olds of 2021

Help them grow and learn (and stay busy!)

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks

Mega Bloks Big Building Bag at Amazon

"These extra-durable, high-grade plastic jumbo blocks are designed to fit the tiny hands of toddlers without sacrificing on fun."

Radio Flyer 4-in-1 Stroll 'N Trike at Amazon

"Whether they want to peddle or just kick back and enjoy the ride, this learn-to-ride-trike will be a stroll must-have."

Sesame Street Love to Hug Elmo at Amazon

"Elmo is a character that transcends time and this hugging and dancing version will be an instant hit with your toddler."

Green Toys Tide Pool Set & Submarine at Amazon

"Bring the beach to bath time with these eco-friendly, BPA-free, adorable ocean themed water toys."

Battat Big Red Barn – Animal Farm Playset at Amazon

"Toddlers will love bringing their favorite barn animals to life with this travel-friendly farm play set."

Fisher-Price Bounce and Spin Interactive Puppy at buybuybaby.com

"Your toddler will be in for the ride of their life with this interactive, musical bouncer that also reviews their alphabet and numbers."

Boon Building Path Pipes Toy Set at Amazon

"These colorful suction water pipes attach to the bathtub walls to bring your toddlers creative ideas to life."

Learning Resources New Sprouts Munch It! Pretend Play Food at Amazon

"Your budding chef will feel like Gordon Ramsey with this crush-resistant, supreme quality plastic play food set."

Sesame Street Peekaboo Cookie Monster at Amazon

"Toddlers favorite game is peek-a-boo and this sweet tooth Cookie Monster will be ready to play endless rounds with is extra large cookie in-hand."

Melissa & Doug Pull-Back Vehicles at Amazon

"Perfect for toddlers that like to see their toys fly across the room, these plush cars will help develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination."

Shopping for toys for 18-month-olds can be daunting. They’ve outgrown a lot of their baby toys, but they’re not old enough for more complex ones with small parts. The ideal gift for kids in this age group should be educational, interactive, and entertaining. By 18 months old, they are starting to learn more about their surroundings and engaging in more independent play, so their toys should reflect their need for stimulating and interesting toys that peak their interests.

Here’s our roundup of fun and stimulating toys for 18-month-olds.

Mega Bloks Big Building Bag

Mega Bloks Big Building Bag

 Courtesy of Mega Bloks

Pros
  • Durable

  • Includes a storage bag

  • Develops hand-eye coordination and motor skills

  • Inspires creativity

Cons
  • Not BPA-free

With their easy-to-hold shape and bright colors, these classic Mega Bloks are the perfect gift for toddlers. The set comes with 80 durable, high-grade plastic blocks in a convenient zip-up storage bag. Recommended for ages 1 year old and up, they’re ideal for developing hand-eye coordination and motor skills, as well as inspiring creativity.

Radio Flyer 4-in-1 Stroll 'N Trike

Radio Flyer 4-in-1 Stroll 'N Trike

 Courtesy of Radio Flyer

Pros
  • 4-in-1 product

  • Holds up to 49 pounds

  • UV blocking canopy

  • Includes a cup holder and storage compartment

Cons
  • No seat pad

Designed to grow with your little one, this ride-on toy from Radio Flyer converts from a toddler trike to a steering trike, learn-to-ride-trike, and finally a classic trike. It’s recommended for ages 9 months to 5 years and can hold kids up to 49 pounds. The trike comes with useful features such as an adjustable UV blocking canopy, cup holder, and rear storage compartment, making it perfect for family strolls.

Sesame Street Love to Hug Elmo

Sesame Street Love to Hug Elmo Plush Toy
Courtesy of Best Buy
Pros
  • Speaks English and Spanish

  • Soft fabric

  • Batteries included

Cons
  • Electrical insides can be felt

What 18-month-old doesn’t love Elmo? When you give him a hug, this Elmo doll will hug you back, offer a kiss, and sing in English or Spanish for bilingual playtime. With the ability to respond to baby’s touch, hugs, and squeezes, there are seemingly endless features to discover. Recommend for ages 18 months and up.

Green Toys Tide Pool Set & Submarine

Pros
  • Inspires creativity

  • BPA-free

  • Dishwasher safe

  • Includes a storage bag

Cons
  • Kids may tire of it quickly

This versatile Green Toys set includes a submarine and six shells and sea creatures that are perfect for creative play at the beach or in the tub. Made from recycled plastic, the entire set is BPA free and dishwasher safe. The seaweed-patterned storage bag has holes on the bottom and sides, allowing the pieces to drain and dry out between uses. Recommended for ages 6 months and up.

Battat Big Red Barn – Animal Farm Playset

Pros
  • Promotes sensory learning

  • Travel-friendly

  • BPA-free

Cons
  • Smaller pieces pose choking hazard

Perfect for imaginative play, this toddler-friendly set comes with a toy barn and adorable animals. Just the right size for little hands, it has plenty of textures and colors to promote sensory learning and also features a handle for easy transport. Complete with four farm animals and one dutiful farmer, your little one’s farmhouse is full of fun characters. Recommended for ages 18 months and up.

Fisher-Price Bounce and Spin Interactive Puppy

Fisher-Price Bounce and Spin Interactive Puppy

 Courtesy of Fisher-Price

Pros
  • Interactive buttons and lights

  • Teaches numbers, letters, and simple words

  • Durable

Cons
  • Doesn't include batteries

For toddlers who love to bounce, this adorable dog provides them a safe, sturdy way to move. As your little one bounces up and down or presses the interactive buttons and lights, they can listen to music, the alphabet, numbers, or other simple words and phrases. The sturdy base keeps your tot safe while they ride. Recommended for ages 1 year old and up.

Boon Building Bath Pipes Toy Set

Pros
  • Easy to clean and dry

  • BPA-free

  • Inspires creativity

  • Durable

Cons
  • Suction cups could be better

Another toy to make bath time more fun, these pipes suction to the bathroom wall so toddlers can create a chain to pour water through. Each pipe has a unique shape and function and can be used either separately or together. Recommended for ages 12 months and up, they easily rinse with soap and clean water and can be air-dried to avoid mildew growth.

Learning Resources New Sprouts Munch It! Pretend Play Food

Pros
  • Durable

  • Helps build vocabulary

  • Inspires creativity

Cons
  • Smaller pieces pose choking hazard

This realistic-looking play food set comes with 20 high-quality, crush-resistant plastic pieces, including toddler favorites such as macaroni and cheese and a juice box. Whether they want to pretend they’re food shopping, cooking, or eating at a restaurant, they’ll have fun while building vocabulary and engaging in dramatic play. Hope your pretend food appetite is ready! Recommended for ages 18 months and up.

What the Experts Say

"Eighteen months mark the beginnings of symbolic play. Toddlers start to understand that an object can represent something else. They will imitate every day routines and actions they see like giving a bottle to their stuffed bear. Imitation and pretend play help children learn about their culture, routines, other people’s experience and their environment." Elizabeth Zack, Ph.D., Outreach and Education Specialist at the University of Washington

Sesame Street Peekaboo Cookie Monster

Pros
  • Interactive

  • Soft and plush

  • Batteries included

Cons
  • Can be hard to press

You can finally give your arms a rest from playing endless rounds of peekaboo. The ultra-adorable Cookie Monster plays the toddler favorite Peekaboo by hiding his face behind his oversized cookie. Recommended for ages 18 months and up, the plush toy also hiccups and says funny expressions such as "Hey! Me busy eating cookie!"

Melissa & Doug Pull-Back Vehicles

Melissa and Doug pull back cars

Courtesy of Melissa and Doug

Pros
  • Soft fabric

  • Develops hand-eye coordination and motor skills

  • Inspires creativity

Cons
  • Doesn't work well on carpet

Toddlers can pull back on one of these soft fabric vehicles and then watch them zoom across the floor. Ideal for developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, the four colorful cars will also inspire imaginative and creative play. The soft texture is perfect for little hands that like to toss toys across the room. Recommended for ages 9 months and up.

LEGO DUPLO My First Car Creations

Pros
  • Inspires creativity

  • Develops fine motor skills

  • Affordable

Cons
  • Smaller pieces pose choking hazard

Toddlers aren’t too young to be part of the LEGO fun, thanks to colorful DUPLO blocks that are recommended for ages 18 months and up and perfect for tiny hands. With this set, they can create four different vehicles and link them together to make dozens of combinations. The mix-and-match ability allows your tot to express their creative side.

LeapFrog Sweet Treats Musical Tea Set

Pros
  • Teaches colors, counting, and matching

  • Promotes social skills

  • Great for independent and group play

  • Batteries included

Cons
  • Included treat box isn't durable

This adorable tea set encourages pretend play and helps kids ages 12 months and up learn colors, counting, matching, and social skills. They can host a tea party as they listen to seven different songs and hear the teapot make sloshing sounds as it pours. A wonderful way to introduce toddlers to sharing, they can play by themselves, with you, or among friends. 

Learning Resources Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog

Pros
  • Develops fine motor skills

  • Teaches colors, counting, and sorting

  • Easy to clean up

Cons
  • Smaller pieces pose choking hazard

Spike the Hedgehog helps kids practice their fine motor skills as they maneuver his removable, colorful quills in and out of the holes on his back. The cute hedgehog also encourages color recognition, sorting, and counting. Recommended for kids aged 18 months and up, the toy is also a cinch to clean up, since all the quills pack up neatly inside the Hedgehog’s body.

TOP BRIGHT Race Track Set

Pros
  • Encourages independent play

  • Teaches colors and counting

  • Durable

Cons
  • Smaller pieces pose choking hazard

This race track set is perfect for encouraging independent play and developing focus as toddlers set cars in motion and watch them roll and flip down the race track. Plus, the cars’ bright colors and numbers help kids practice their counting and color recognition skills. Recommended for ages 18 months and up.

Battat Wooden Activity Cube

Pros
  • Develops fine motor skills

  • Teaches colors, shapes, letters, and numbers

  • No assembly required

Cons
  • Can fall over

Each panel of the Battat Wooden Activity Cube features different activities to help toddlers develop their motor skills and learn about colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. Recommended for kids 1 and up, this sturdy, durable toy is perfect for independent or side-by-side play. The best part is that it arrives fully assembled and ready to play with straight out of the box.

Little Tikes First Slide

Pros
  • Can be used indoors and outdoors

  • Easy to store

  • Generous weight limit

Cons
  • Assembly required

Designed for kids ages 18 months to 6 years, this beginner slide can be used both indoors and outside and has handrails for added stability. The perfect height for little ones, this miniature slide is a wonderful all-season activity toy. It folds down effortlessly, making it easy to move around or stow away.

LEGO DUPLO My First Alphabet Truck

Pros
  • Develops fine motor skills

  • Teaches letters and word building

  • Inspires creativity

Cons
  • Doesn't include a storage bag

With letters, colors, figures, and a truck, this DUPLO set is an ideal gift for kids ages 18 months and up. The easy-to-handle bricks are perfect for tiny hands to build and stack as toddlers learn their letters and work on fine motor skills. As they improve their letter recognition skills, they can practice building words too!

VTech Smart Shots Sports Center

Pros
  • Interactive sounds and lights

  • Encourages independent play

  • Teaches shapes and numbers

Cons
  • Loud

Sporty toddlers will love that they can play both soccer and basketball with this 2-in-1 toy. Recommended for ages 1 year old and up, the set lights up, plays music, and makes sounds while also keeping track of baskets on the scoreboard. The purple side lever makes it easy for your toddler to restart the scoreboard all by themselves to encourage independent play.

What Our Editors Say

"My toddler loves to kick and throw balls outside. In the winter months, when we don't want to spend hours in the backyard, this little sports center was a family favorite toy. The two included balls are small enough and soft enough that we were never concerned about them causing any damage inside our home." Ashleigh Morley, Commerce Editorial Director

LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book

Pros
  • Speaks English and Spanish

  • Teaches word building

  • Batteries included

Cons
  • Loud

Designed for kids 18 months and up, this fun, interactive toy helps toddlers build early language skills. Words are separated into categories like pets, mealtime, opposites, and many more to help toddlers learn and understand the meaning of words. They can touch the words and pictures on each page and hear how they’re pronounced, in English or Spanish, and also listen to fun facts, music, and other sounds.

Melissa & Doug Rainbow Caterpillar

Pros
  • Develops hand-eye coordination and motor skills

  • Teaches colors and matching

  • Inspires creativity

Cons
  • Pieces fall off caterpillar easily

Toddlers will be mesmerized as they turn the colorful gears and watch the caterpillar crawl on the wooden base. Each of the colorful gears can be removed and added back to the wooden base to encourage color matching. Recommended for ages 18 months and up, this hands-on toy helps promote coordination and motor skills.

Little Tikes Shopping Cart

Little Tikes Shopping Cart

 Courtesy of Little Tikes

Pros
  • BPA-, latex-, PVC-, and phthalate-free

  • Can be used indoors and outdoors

  • Can pair with other toys

Cons
  • Assembly required

This tried-and-true favorite from Little Tikes inspires toddlers to engage in imaginative role play. Made from durable, BPA-, latex-, PVC- and phthalate-free plastic, it features easy-push wheels that are designed to protect indoor surfaces yet still work outside. This fun shopping cart is a great toy to pair with their other pretend toys like toddler play food and pretend kitchen. Recommend for ages 18 months and up.

Fisher-Price Little People Helpers Home

Pros
  • Encourages healthy and helpful habits

  • Interactive buttons and sounds

  • Inspires creativity

Cons
  • Smaller pieces pose choking hazard

With multiple rooms featuring lots of opportunities for hands-on, interactive play, this Little People playset is a safe and sturdy option for toddlers starting at 12 months. Your little one can explore the house as they hear songs, sounds, and phrases. The interactive set encourages toddlers to help and care for family and pets while building real-life healthy and helpful habits.

Final Verdict

Eye-catching and perfectly sized for little hands, the Mega Bloks Big Building Bag (view at Amazon) promotes multiple skills at once, including imagination, creativity, and hand-eye coordination. 

If you’re looking for a toy for outdoor outings, the Radio Flyer 4-in-1 Stroll ’N Trike (view at Amazon) makes a perfect addition for leisure strolls. Complete with four modes, it conveniently grows with your kiddo until they’re five. 

What to Look for When Buying Toys for 18-Month-Olds

Safety

At 18 months old, toddlers are becoming more independent, and their curiosity is rising, which means safety is extremely important when it comes to toys. When shopping for toys, consider how the toy will be used and what amount of supervision or help is needed to safely play with the toy. Parents and caregivers should avoid buying toys that require high-powered magnets and button batteries. Toys with small parts or can fit entirely in a child’s mouth should also be kept away as they are choking hazards.

Zack recommends creating a "yes" space, which are "flexible environments where it’s okay for children to touch and explore. They promote independence and support children’s curiosity because they reduce how often you need to say 'no' or 'don’t' or 'stop.'"

She says, "You can create a 'yes' space by putting up safe barriers like baby gates or using a play yard to keep child within a specific area where everything in it is safe for them to explore. Get down on a child’s level and look around your space. Remove small objects that may be a choking hazard or items that are breakable. Make sure outlets are covered. Put toys and materials in places that your child can access them in a safe way."

Milestones

Developmental milestones are important to follow to ensure your child is on the right track as they get older. Milestones come in the form of social, emotional, language, cognitive, and other different kinds of skills. Parents and caregivers can keep the following milestones and toys in mind when out shopping for an 18-month-old.  

  • Speaking several single words: The LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book (view on Amazon) encourages language.
  • Pulls toys while walking: The Hape Frog Pull-Along (view on Amazon) promotes movement and physical development.
  • Plays simple pretend: To encourage social and emotional milestones, check out the Adora Machine Washable Baby Doll (view on Amazon). 

Physicality

Buying toys that encourage your child to move and use their bodies while playing is important. It promotes confidence in children when it comes to their bodies and makes them stronger. Toys, like balls of different shapes and sizes, or a wagon to fill and pull, are great places to start. 

Why Trust Verywell Family?

Christine Luff is a freelance writer who covers fitness, health, parenting, and other topics. She’s also mom to a 13-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son, who have always enjoyed a wide range of active and educational toys.

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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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